WAR: Genichiro Tenryu

October 29, 2007

It’s time to look back at the Japan portion of my career, and my time working for Genichiro Tenryu and WAR. I worked for WAR from November 1995 thru January 1998 and rackets up a total of 24 tours to Japan in that time. I first got the job with WAR through Chris Jericho who had been working there for a year or so and had been putting in a good word for me (one of the many jobs I credit Jericho for getting me).

My first tour was in November of 1995 as a replacement for the injured Orihara and was booked on pretty much every tour after that. Ultimo Dragon was the top Jr. Heavyweight in WAR at the time and I credit my continued success in WAR to the fact that Dragon liked working with me. At that point in his career he was working like crazy and I believe he was feeling a little burnt out. He was working almost full time in Mexico and doing every WAR tour in Japan as well. Mexico was a very busy schedule for him, and the Japan style was a very strong one, and I think he was wearing out, and enjoyed the fact that I was very easy to work with and worked extremely light by Japanese standards.

There were a ton of talented guys in WAR so I learned so much during my time there. My favourites to work with were Chris Jericho (fans remembered we were once a team and we always had extra crowd heat when we faced each other), Jado and Gedo (both awesome workers) and of course Dragon, who you couldn’t have a bad match with. I also had some very unique opportunities working in War: I had single matches with Abdullah the Butcher, I wrestled the Original Tiger Mask Satoru Sayama, I got to work joint shows with New Japan Pro-Wrestling and face guys like Jushin Thunder Liger. It was one of the best times of my career.

War was a great company to work for and Tenryu was likely the best boss I ever had. I’m not sure there is a man in the business I have more respect for than Genichiro Tenryu. Tenryu treated his people like they were “his people” not just wrestlers that happen to work for him. We all traveled together on the same bus and Tenryu was compeltely approachable and easy to talk to. I got regular raises working for WAR and Tenryu always checked up on us to make sure we didn’t need anything. Tenryu had worked in the US before so I think he appreciated the hardships of being in a foreign country and always looked out for us.

My first daughter was born while I was on tour with WAR and Tenryu was the first person to congratulate me on her birth. My wife’s due date was origianlly supposed to be between tours but due to hyper-tension they needed to induce her early. I called home every morning before boarding the WAR bus, to see if I was a father and every day the first person I saw climbing the stairs onto the bus was Tenryu who would ask me, “Today baby come?” to which I would reply, “not yet”. The morning I finally got the news, I border the bus and got to reply to him, “yes, baby come. I have baby girl”. Tenryu was the first person to shake my hand and say congratulations, and when he took his hand away a $1000 cash bonus remained in mine. I was not a rich man at that point in my career and I will never forget his generousity. If that wasn’t nice enough that next year at the end of the tour before my daughters first birthday, Tenryu had Uno (the referee) take me out to buy a birthday present for my daughter from the company. I was never treated so well, by any company I’ve ever worked for.

Now of course we come to the fun part of these promoter commentaries, the money. Did WAR or Genichiro Tenryu ever stiff me on my money? ABSLOUTELY NOT! I was paid every dime Tenryu ever promised me and on a few occasions even got bonuses. In Japan a man is measured by his honour and Tenryu is a great, great man! On a scale from 1-10, Tenryu was an 11, and I can’t thank him enough for two of the greatest years of my career.

Lance Storm